EDUrain CEO and St. Louis native Bryon Pierson Jr., and co-founder and developer Eli Front, raised $120,000 for a start-up business over the last two years. Pierson said he wanted to build an organization that combines social impact with a sustainable business model.
After struggling to manage his college expenses, Pierson accrued more than $60,000 in debt related to his studies and other expenses. He then spent several years learning to understand the financial aid process. That led to the business concept of EDURain. He does not want other students to make the same mistakes.
"When I was broken and trying to build something... I knew good things would come back around," Pierson said.
What began as a site showing a plethora of scholarships soon expanded. After studying a hefty 160-page college selection research study, which highlighted 330 colleges across the country, Pierson said he wanted to make college selection for students easier. He then crafted a detailed college ranking system.
EDURain officially launched as a scholarship database in 2020, and the affordable off-campus housing analytic platform launched in March 2021. In addition, the firm offers zero-interest loans for students transitioning into a university on a case-by-case basis.
The long-term goal is to have a representative at each college in St. Louis. Currently, EDURain has its strongest affiliation with Washington University of St. Louis, with most of his staff either attending or graduating from the university.
"We want students to know there is a place to go to find a [school] and a way to pay for it," Pierson said.
The start-up has a diverse 15-member team, and Pierson said the organization has worked with around 400 students directly through scholarships, housing, and loans.
Front said the platform idea was for the team to be composed of young people in school or just finishing school who are creating a service they wish they had.
"Every person here is a student. So, in the summer, with a freer schedule, we're ready to light the fire and open doors," he said.
In addition to Pierson and Front, the staff’s undergraduate and graduate students are studying computer science, business, politics and more.
"It's made for students by students," Front said.
EDURain also partners with the Parkway School District’s “Parkway Spark!” program. Students interested in technology and or business can sign up for mentorship and create their first intern experience.
"We're trying to give a small seed into that early stage of the higher educational system," Front said.
Finding and helping students means more than canvassing area campuses.
The start-up has branched out to politicians, parents, college access organizations, corporations, leasing agencies, and foster-care organizations.
Diversity is a key feature of EDURain and it is also in contact with Hispanic-oriented organizations, Black-oriented organizations, counseling services, student Support services, and organizations geared towards helping low-income families, and more.
For more information on the company and its services, visit www.edurain.org